Creativity and messiness

I recently read an article about the ‘messiness of creative people’. Here it is in full for those who have not seen it-

I agree that messiness is a sign of creativity in progress and that creative work has a ‘fuzzy’ logic of its own.  Judging from my office with its books, papers and cuttings strewn across while I think and write (I am writing two books at present), I am not averse to messiness myself.


But when I think about one of my favourite character from books, Hercule Poirot, I wonder why he was made so neat and yet so clever?  Poirot’s creator, Agatha Christie made him so tidy that when he investigated a crime, a small untidiness would get his ‘little grey cells’ working and he would come up with the most original and of course, correct solution. Here is a photo of his creator, Agatha Christie working on her tidy desk.


(photo credit:

Perhaps this image was posed for the photographer in the artistic fashion of that time. And here below is how she actually worked, writing in every scrap of paper she could find, including her children’s old school notebooks, accounting books, etc., and sometimes she could not find them when she needed them (as I read in her biography).


(photo credit:

I guess what this shows is that creativity encompasses both messiness and tidiness.  I know that in reality when I finish a writing project, I like to tidy up as if to put a ‘closure’ on it. Sometimes tidying up during the process of writing helps not only to clear my my mind but also find bits of information that I had forgotten about. I know that when I am tidying I am thinking too. So Hercule Poirot may have been right- tidying does help the little grey cells!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.